5/2/06

Mommy Track

It (essay was published, the "New York Times") reported that Felice Schwartz, author of the HBR essay (Management Women and the Facts of Life), had advocated a separate "mommy track" aimed at the sort of woman who is "valuable to the company for her willingness to accept lower pay and little advancement in return for a flexible schedule that allows her to accommodate family needs."

When I started my career, I was dating a great guy (now the hubby), just moved into my first apartment post-college, and worked obscene hours just to get noticed at the office. Overtime---sure, no problem. My life revolved around work during the week and partying on the weekends, ifI wasnt working. Then I got engaged and shortly after, the EPT showed me 2 lines.

I returned to work full time after a 3 month maternity leave. I found fantastic day care near my hubby's work and off I went to the office with breast pump in tow. After a few months of long commutes, general exhaustion, and only a dozen or so breakdowns about "having it all and feeling like crap", my manager and I worked out a flexible schedule; I worked from home on Mondays and Fridays and was in the office the rest of the week. From my perspective, it worked out great! The feeling of totally loss of control I had while I was in the office 5 days a week while trying to adjust to life with a newborn disappeared as I had 2 days a week to slow down my pace a bit. From talking to coworkers, there didnt seem to be a big issue at the office with my arrangement either......granted, there were so few weeks that I was actually home both Monday and Fridays. Most weeks, there would be a meeting or something at the office that needed my attention and so to the office I would go, sometimes with the Baby Bjorn strapped to me, other times not. Regardless, my dedication and committment to my job never wavered. Honestly, my work got better and I became a more efficient worker after figuring out the balance of motherhood and career.

But..............

Projects that might involve travel were never offered to me. Projects that would stretch my knowledge and force me to work extra hard were never put on my desk. In fact, projects were simply taken from me and given to workaholic co-workers instead. Oh, but I was allowed to stay on the project as the second meeting planner (gee, thanks!). I was never allowed to send anything to a client without sending it to my manager at least once....to make sure that it was correct. Just because I had a child doesnt mean that all my brain cells have disappeared!

I was put on the Mommy Track. Any one watch Grey's Anatomy? Mommy Track is a topic of interest to the show now that Dr. Bailey has a baby. Dr. Bailey, meanwhile, is pissed because Webber seemingly has her on the mommy track and is keeping her off the surgery board. But Bailey says oh hell no, she may change diapers and sing the goddamn ABCs but she will not be mommy tracked lest Webber want a taste of double-barrelled Bailey-brand whoopass. I say good for Bailey to stand up for herself!

2 jobs later and I think that I finally found a company that understands. Granted, the company works with promoting healthy work environments but still, I am happy that I have finally found a place that it is okay to come in late because the toddler needs to go to the doctor or that I need a felxible schedule so that I can leave at 4 pm for the afternoon day care pick up.

My manager at that first job is now a mother. I still talk to her and to my co-workers there (it was a great job and all the ladies there are awesome!). From what I hear, she is having some adjustment issues balancing her own flex work schedule........it is hard to feed a baby while on a conference call and answering emails in your home office. I know---been there, done that, still do it!

I talk to my friends with no kids and they are sometimes bitter (maybe thats not the right word....cant think of another one though) that mothers tend to have flex work schedules and work from home more often. My feeling is that everyone should have the ability to use flex work scheduling, if your company offers it and as long as your job gets done, baby or no baby. But, just because someone is trying to be a good mother as well as a successful career woman, it doenst make them less committed to their office job and doesnt mean that they should be passed over for promotions.

Mommy Track is even listed in the American Heritage Dictionary!!!!

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
mommy track
NOUN:
A career path determined by work arrangements offering mothers certain benefits, such as flexible hours, but usually providing them with fewer opportunities for advancement.

As I said earlier, I am a more efficient worker, time manger, and perople manager than I was before babies. Wonder if "Mother" can be added to my resume to highlight all those skills?? So, Mommy Track---I am off that one and I am on my own track....like it or not!

1 comment:

KatieJoeandGrace said...

I am definitely not on the "mommy track" as of right now. Not sure if I ever will be!
I agree with you about being a better time manager, dedicated worker, and better people person after having a little one!